Art D’Egypte returns for its third edition tomorrow, bringing with it two weeks of immersive and transformative experiences against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Giza Pyramids. Shattering the boundaries between artists, heritage sites, and the audience, Forever is Now 03, which will run from Oct. 26 to Nov. 18, promises to craft a dynamic trilogy of cultural exploration. As you wander through the captivating installations brought to life by 14 different artists, brace yourself for an enchanting journey through art that breathes hope and playfulness into a world yearning for positivity.
The 14-day-long art festival is the brainchild of French-Egyptian curator, consultant, and cultural ambassador Nadine Abdel Ghaffar. Her brainchild, Forever Is Now, emerged in 2021, propelling Egypt’s artistic landscape onto the global stage.
Abdel Ghaffar first planted the seeds of Art D’Égypte in 2016. This multidisciplinary platform became a beacon of support for Egyptian arts cultural initiatives— a stepping stone in uniting artists from all over the world. But it was in 2021 that the idea manifested into an annual exhibition set against the awe-inspiring Pyramids. Following two successful editions, the event continues to earn ever-growing international acclaim.
Ahead of the hotly-anticipated third edition of Forever is Now, MILLE caught up with Abdel Ghaffar to delve into the heart of this year’s event, discover what to expect, and the surprises that the third chapter holds.
What makes ‘Forever is Now 03’ the largest edition yet?
“Firstly, it boasts 14 artists which is the largest participation we’ve had yet. Secondly, it redefines the art experience with an unprecedented level of interactivity. We created a trilogy between the artist, the visitor, and the heritage site. The synergy between artist, visitor, and heritage site takes center stage, granting the audience a pivotal role in this immersive journey.”
Could you tell us more about this year’s concept play, what we can expect?
“This year’s concept, play, is a celebration of art as a sanctuary of peace, a beacon of hope, and a realm of playfulness. Expect to engage intimately with the artwork, such as navigating through a mesmerizing maze. Through contemporary expressions and installations, the artists deliver a profound sense of hope, playfulness, and cheerfulness, offering a radiant respite in these challenging times.”
How did Art D’Egypte first come to light? Tell us more about your curatorial journey.
“Art D’Egypte’s inception traces back to my rich upbringing in Alexandria, where the arts were omnipresent. With a deep-rooted appreciation for culture and heritage, a family legacy closely connected to iconic artists like Mohamed Nagy and Effat Nagy, and a compelling fascination with the evolution of Egyptian art, this endeavor became a calling naturally to me. Managing the estates of renowned artists, conducting successful auctions at prestigious institutions like Christie’s, and preserving the narrative of a nation through art is my way of bridging the gap between cultures and showcasing heritage to the world.
“As for the world heritage sites, heritage belongs to the world. It does not belong to one nation. And the beauty of it is that it brings humanity all together, no matter what the race, color, religion. That has always been my vision. The whole idea is to bring people and artists from around the world to have this experience.”
What do you think makes Egypt so special in terms of the presence it holds in the art world?
“I believe that the region altogether is a very rich region in terms of culture, heritage, customs, and traditions. Even on the culinary level, the fabric level, the design level— we have so much to tell you. So, we’re a very rich region. Of course, having amazing heritage sites is significant too.”
Could you tell us more about the second UNESCO-listed heritage site that the exhibition will also take place in?
“Art D’Egypte’s second historical site, the Salah al-Din Citadel in Cairo, sets the stage for four galleries starting with ‘If Only the Walls Could Talk’, exploration of the concealed narratives within our spaces. Through various works, it transcends the physical boundaries of walls, venturing into the ephemeral realms of memory, imagination, and collective consciousness. Each piece acts as a portal to history, revealing the untold tales housed by the citadel, from paintings capturing forgotten places to sculptures manifesting the weight of history.
“The second exhibition is ‘Arab Dialogue VOL.1’. This evocative exhibition will unite diverse Arab schools of art from Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. It fosters a compelling dialogue, echoing through the walls of history.”
“Thirdly, ‘Atmospheric: Objects of Narrative’ illuminates the complexities of domestic life via the stories encapsulated in mundane objects, diving into the intimate domains of personal histories, memories, and experiences within domestic spaces, illustrating how these tales have molded individuals and communities.”
“Lastly, the exhibition of Decorative Arts features some of Egypt’s most vibrant design brands including Okhtein, Nadim Foundation, Rasha Pasha, Design Industry, Reform Studio, Kahhal, Kangaroo, Kilim, Don Tanani, and R’kan.”
If you could describe this year’s edition in three words, what would they be?
“Hopeful, peaceful, and a trilogy to symbolize the harmonious blend of artists, heritage sites, and the engaged audience in a tapestry of cultural hope and tranquility.”
What does the future of Art D’Egypte look like?
“The future of Art D’Egypte unfolds with ‘Culturvator,’ a global consultancy born from (Art D’Egypte’s) success as a case study for numerous entities. This consultancy extends expertise in cultural promotion to the region and beyond, working with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and collaborating with various other entities, with future prospects of exhibitions that promise to be remarkable.”